October 26, 2014

Potato Head Folk, Singapore….the bill’s a whopper

Pricey, overly complicated burgers aren’t usually my thing, and normally, I wouldn’t bother reviewing a hamburger with such a steep price tag. But this needs to be written so yáll can be warned. The humble hamburger has certainly come a long way from its fast food origins.

With all of that said, did the cheeseburger live up to the high expectations? I had the smoking B-Boy and yes, it did. It was as good as I had hoped but it didn’t surpass my expectations. The Naughty Fries – Spiced béarnaise, hot beef chilli, crisp shallots, parmesan & sesame seeds – were awful. Instead of being thinly sliced and crisp it was massively soggy. It was so bad that I couldn’t get past four measly fries, despite being hungry enough to finish the entire serving, and then some

The main problem with offering a hamburger for between $20 – $28 is living up to inflated expectations. Every time I eat a burger that’s more than $15, I can’t help but do the “burger math”, using a cheaper alternative. Potato Head’s burgers costs more than Fat Boys and 10 times as much as ‘McDonald’s, and sadly, wasn’t any better than either. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

smokin b boy @potato head

potato head

October 25, 2014

Lost Heaven, Shanghai…the ambience can make anybody feel like a somebody

Located on Shanghai’s famous “Bund”, Lost Heaven is a true MSG-free journey of the tribal cuisine of China’s Yunnan Province – Southern Chinese from the borders of Myanmar and Cambodia. For the uninitiated, many dishes will remind you, in look and taste, of subtle Thai food.

The moment you step in, the high-brow, swanky, tribal coolness endeavours to seduce you. Diners are illuminated beneath a glow of ethnic mystique, surrounded with Southeast Asian wooden floors and Yunnanese stone face masks as decor, and minimalist spotlights here and there. The ambience is dark and moody, though and it’s hard to see what you’re eating, but almost everything tastes pretty good. In addition to the restaurant, there is a fancy lounge upstairs with an outdoor terrace complete with a wooden bar, water fountains beautiful lamps and comfy-looking seats.

The stunning Miao tribe hot and sour prawns gives off an intriguing aroma and flavor. One taste of these prawns in the spicy and sour broth will send your taste buds to paradise. The Burmese shrimp paste with shrimp beans was also very aromatic, full of flavour and very tasty. Another dish not to miss is the amazing Da li style chicken with chili and green onions. The Yunnan eggplant and tofu salad where soft strips of eggplant sit below thin slices of soft, slippery tofu was delicious too. The only failure was the Yunnan wild vegetable cakes. Four out of five ain’t bad.

This restaurant is SUPER busy. I could only managed to dine there on a return trip to Shanghai when I called ahead to make a reservation prior to my trip. But it’s worth the wait. Lost Heaven can make anybody feel like a somebody. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

lost heaven shanghai2

lost heaven shanghai

October 22, 2014

Taste Better, Melaka…those durian puff were love at first bite

The thing is, I love actual durians but I’ve never been a fan of anything durian flavoured – ice cream, cake, whatever. Taste Better is a small little pastry shop but everything looks pretty tempting, I can’t decide what to get. Don’t be intimidated by the array of unusual flavours here! This. Blew. Me. Away. Confession: I loved it. There, I said it!!

The sign crystal clearly states: 1 Bite Puff: I shot all in, don’t bite! Was so good that I ate up the whole puff at one go? not quite. Overall, I was impressed by my experience. Bite into one of the morsel sized Durian puffs and the Durian literally explodes from within the thin pastry. Not too sweet and yet made of the real deal. Rich, creamy, smooth. Heavenly.

Here’s where to go for your drool-worthy durian fix. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

melaka taste better durian puff

melaka taste better durian puff2

October 19, 2014

Middleton Tavern, Annapolis, Maryland…hot crab dip and Rockefeller oysters in one of the oldest restaurants in the US

Annapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Maryland. Middleton Tavern was established in 1750. Situated down the street from the Maryland State House, on the docks, it is one of the oldest restaurants in the US. The decor is random, including heads and bodies of hunted animals and old china.

The hot crab dip is a massive hit. The crab is the star of the show so good crab meat is CRUCIAL and they just need a little more of that. Rockefeller oysters are oysters topped with a mixture of finely chopped greens and copious amounts of butter and then baked in their shells. Historically it was considered so rich that it had to be named after the richest man of the day, John D. Rockefeller. The Rockefeller oysters here prove that cheese and seafood definitely go together.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were numbered among the prominent patrons of Middleton Tavern. I am now part of the galaxy of revered leaders who’d dined here. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

middleton tavern mussels

middleton tavern hot crab dip

middleton tavern annapolis

October 18, 2014

Warong Pak Sapari, Singapore…utterly delicious mee soto

Adam Road Food Centre. Andrew Zimmern came here. The Vice President of America Joe Biden was here. Ventilation is poor and it does get stuffy. Parking is a problem. Despite all this, I would still make my way down to Adam Rd just for the Mee Soto. Mee Soto Ayam is a classic Spicy Chicken Soup, commonly found in Malaysia,Singapore and Indonesia (”Soto” means “soup” and “Ayam” means “chicken”) and comes with cubed rice, chicken and bean sprouts .

At Warong Pak Sapari, the aromatic and richly flavoured chicken broth of the soto which has just the right amount of spices, turmeric, ginger, fried shallots and the coriander (Ketumbar) hits your sweet spot for sure. They give you a generous helping of tender shredded chicken pieces, lontong and crunchy bean sprouts but don’t forget to order the giant bergedil.

Comfort and atmosphere may leave a lot to be desired at this food centre, but this unassuming, modest stall offers one of the finest mee soto ayam in the country. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…


October 12, 2014

Yang’s dumpling, Shanghai…Awesome crispy outsides with VERY juicy insides shrimp soup dumplings

The hot, steaming dumplings filled with a juicy soup and shrimp-filled center, complete with a perfectly crunchy wok-seared bottom here are a winner. Spot on every time, even takeaway. 48 hours later, I went back for more. I would have never discovered this little gem if not for Aggie, the front office associate who checked me into JW Marriott Shanghai Tomorrow Square.

My first impression of Yang’s Dumpling (known locally as Xiao Yang Sheng Jian) was how nice and clean this establishment is…no funky odors or dirty smells from unsanitary conditions found in some Chinese restaurants. You get to watch a bloke pan-frying the sheng jian baos in a HUGE pan right in front of you. They come out fresh and piping hot!  The MAIN point of why this type of dumpling is so good is because it has broth inside them. This place fries the outside perfectly and you can see the burnt yumminess on the bottom of the dumpling. I don’t know how they got it so perfect but it’s very crunchy on the bottom, a little crispy on the sides, and soft steamed dumpling goodness on top. Inside is shrimp with soup. It’s amazing. Seriously. In addition to the shrimp dumplings, I had a bowl of mung bean noodle and spare rib soup. The tasty spare rib was so large an chunky you’d think it was Godzilla’s. The noodle was too stretchy and not my kind of thing.

Come back? Hell yeah. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

yang's dumpling shanghai

yang's dumpling shanghai 2

October 6, 2014

Health Land Spa & Massage, Bangkok…production line massage

One of the saddest places on earth is the departure terminal at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. I have experienced this  melancholy several times when, after checking in, passing through immigration and then security, it hits you all at once: you are leaving this wonderful piece of the planet. Gone are the great food and the traditional Thai massages.

From the outside Health Land looks like a retro mansion and inside it’s a little like Grand Central Station. The moment I walked in, it was far from a tranquil environment. Though well decorated, I felt like I was in a factory production line. Until you get to your treatment room, you’re just a number (or rather name). They’ll call your name (through a microphone) and you’ll be escorted from the waiting room to an area with benches where you’ll exchange your shoes for slippers and greet your therapist. Then you’ll be led to the elevator and on to your room. I felt like I was going for a ride in a theme park.

The staff at the reception desk may not be the friendliest welcome team around but once you get are enjoying your Thai massage you will soon forget about this.The massage was amazing! I’ve been to other places where they just hurt you. The masseur here uses her hands, arms, elbows, knees and feet apply firm, rhythmic pressure to various parts of the body along with the masseuese taking a casual stroll up and down the length of the back. My lower back got more attention as I’d requested and the pain significantly reduced. She is a true Thai massage master. She’s strong and has big thick arms and hands. She was built for giving massages. Thank GOD for her.

The price is really worth what you get!!!! THB500 for 2hours

The omnipresent “new age spa music”  and the generic herbal scent wafting the air might seem clichéd, but what Health Land lacks in personalized service, they make up for in value for money. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

healthland bkk1

healthland bkk2

October 5, 2014

P.J. Clarke’s, Washington DC…this is an alright place. But it’s nothing special.

The concierge suggested P.J. Clarke’s because it was near our hotel and we needed a decent place to get breakfast. My first impression is that it’s so so comfy with nice ambience, red/white checked tablecloths, vintage DC photos/portraits on the wall, mismatched vintage lighting. I felt like I was at Cheers from television.

The menu has a nice variety of American food. I had the country breakfast with eggs any way you want them, home fries, perfectly cooked and crispy bacon and toast. It wasn’t the food that was memorable at this breakfast but the company of my colleague and SVP. The food was good but not fantastic. The service left a lot to be desired.That’s about it.

I’ll probably give it another shot one day and stick to the  Cadillac Burger which I think is what they’re known for.This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

pj clarke

October 4, 2014

Res Porridge House, Melaka…not fancy or complicated, just good.

This place serves a huge variety of cheap and okay porridge along with some decent side dishes as well.

The preserved egg pork porridge is not watery nor too thick.  It was JUST RIGHT. I also ordered the paddy frog porridge. Fondly known as ‘tin gai’ in Cantonese, paddy field frog (or some all it paddy field chicken) is also known as Chinese edible frog or East Asian bullfrog. The delicate meat is very lean, low in cholesterol and high in protein. Texture wise, it is more like chicken, but slightly chewy and flavour is mild, slightly fishy. The fish fillet with ginger is so light and clean-tasting, the fish is allowed to speak for itself. I was also very satisfied with the shrimp omelette. Of all the dishes I ordered, the one which failed to impress was the cuttlefish with satay sauce.

If you’re within the Melaka Raya vicinity and craving good value, simple Chinese food, this is your best bet. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

porridge house2

porridge house

October 3, 2014

Seafood Market & Restaurant, Bangkok…overpriced and extremely touristy

If it swims we have it….and so their slogan goes. Not 100% accurate but they come pretty close. Basically this huge place is half fish market, half restaurant. You pick your fresh seafood first by entering a small market area where a personal shopping assistant will push a trolley for you and help you select seafood and vegetables. Then give instructions on how everything should be cooked to the waitress and then sit at your table and wait for your meal to arrive.

The crab meat fried rice is really good. I don’t think I’ve ever ate a plate of fried rice that fast! The fresh oyster omelette: sweet salty molluscs enclosed in an eggy blanket was very good. And so were the lala with chilli and tom yum goong. The stir-fried scallop and asparagus wasa average at best and I am totally not impressed with the BBQ squid. Only order if you like bland, tasteless food.

It’s a novel and totally tacky experience… of marine creatures were among the 3-D display as if swimming above us in the large hall. The seafood here is overpriced (plus you pay a charge for the cooking) and the atmosphere is extremely touristy. This is the true truth as I say this as it is…

seafood market bkk

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